Instructor in Focus: Rafael Merino

Rafael Merino

Rafael Merino

Living Energy Pilates and Exercise Physiology, Macleod VIC

Instructor Name: Rafael Merino
Studio(s) you work at: Living Energy Pilates and Exercise Physiology
Location: Macleod VIC
Instructor training: Adv Dip of the Pilates Method
PAA Level: Professional Principal Trainer

What originally motivated you to try Pilates and then go on to train as an instructor?

A life time ago I worked in IT, and used to suffer lots of back problems even in spite of the extensive amount of exercise I was doing. At the time I was going to the gym, practicing Iyengar Yoga and Karate, often training twice daily. I tried all sorts of things to relieve my back pain but nothing really seemed to help, in fact some of the things I tried made it worse.

Eventually I came across a Pilates Studio, there were not many places in Melbourne at that time teaching Pilates. Once I tried it, I was hooked. My back problems settled down within a few months as I started to build up my core strength.

Pilates was both an exercise and an education in how to strengthen the core. I loved the exploratory nature of Pilates classes and how it made me think about how to move, how to breathe and how to engage. Achieving such tremendous results for myself I knew that I wanted to learn and teach Pilates so this was the start of my new career.

What did you eat for breakfast?

Nothing. I don’t eat breakfast generally. I fast until somewhere between midday and 2pm depending upon my schedule. I tend to put on weight quickly so I have taken to intermittent fasting to help keep my weight under control. I am one of the few people who lost weight during the lockdowns.

In one word, describe your first Pilates experience?


What impact has the recent COVID-19 virus had on your world?

Massive. So many things. It obviously had massive impacts on my business as we were largely closed or operating on a small scale for close to 18 months. Our team of instructors is half of what it used to be, as a number of instructors have moved on to other things during that time. We even considered closing down the business and moving interstate for a while. COVID has been an emotional roller coaster here in Victoria, particularly in Melbourne.

With my family we have simplified our lives, the kids play fewer sports now and we spend more time exercising together (bike rides and walks). I have three kids 14, 12,and 9. I worry about the long term impact that the lockdowns will have on children, on both their schooling and social lives. We were really good at keeping our kids away from internet devices pre-COVID, but during COVID the kids had no way of socialising except through their devices. So there was no choice but to let them spend way too many hours connected to the internet. As a family I would say we are struggling to now try and undo that pattern of behaviour.

Politically I am more engaged than I was before, I have been sending letters to MP’s, engaging in protests and expressing my dissatisfaction with the current Victorian Government in any way I can.

I have developed an obsession with Crypto and the monetary decentralisation and democratisation that this offers.

How have you handled your Pilates teaching with COVID-19, any advice to other teachers?

It was certainly challenging doing classes online and telehealth consultations. My experience was that online sessions can work well for a limited number of customers, but the majority will always prefer face to face sessions. During COVID we were offering online classes to our clients, not really as a money making venture, mostly to keep in touch with everyone and to keep our Pilates community together.

During COVID I developed a website ( for the recorded versions of the classes we ran; customers can subscribe and participate in these classes 24/7. I am really happy with how it turned out, although I am planning the next iteration of the website already.

What’s the best thing about your job?

As a person I like to try new things, learn new things and experiment a little. I enjoy growth and discovery. So as a Pilates Instructor I am always trying out things on myself with a view to using it with my customers. As a business owner I enjoy developing different services or classes that I think people will enjoy.

The best thing about my job is having the flexibility to experiment and improvise.

Your ‘go to’ website for all things Pilates (other than PAA)?


The best advice you’ve ever had?

Not sure, but if I was offer advice to anyone I would say have a laugh with your clients – life is too short to be serious all the time.

An indulgence you can’t live without?

Chocolate and Cats

How long have you been a member of PAA and how did you hear about PAA?

I was recommended to join the PAA early in my Pilates career. I joined in 2007 and have been a member ever since.

Do you have a motto?

No really but if I was going to say anything I would say “Keep it real” and “No BS”.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Government Mandates – need I say more.

How do you use PAA?

I enjoy the variety of online training courses available. I enjoy attending the annual conference, and find it very valuable and informative.

Who is your Pilates idol or would love to meet, and why?

I wouldn’t say I have an idol, as idols rarely live up to their reputation. I do have a lot of respect for Joseph Pilates clearly a brilliant man. I have also been fortunate enough to meet many of the veteran Pilates instructors at conferences and training courses over the years, Rael Isacowitz is one that stands out. I am also fascinated with Wim Hof, Ido Portal, and various other natural/primal movement methodologies.

What do you appreciate most about your body?

Being able to maintain a good level of fitness. There are many people I work with who through no fault of their own have been presented with significant challenges in being able to maintain good health.

The book you’re currently reading?

I mainly read when I am on summer holidays – I really enjoyed Stephen Fry’s series of historical books on Mythology and Troy. Mostly I listen to Podcasts these days or debating political ideas with people on twitter.

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